NEW YORK - Before Phil Jackson can begin reshaping their future, the New York Knicks are trying to make something of this season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20, and the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-94 on Saturday, giving them a season-high six straight victories as they prepare to welcome Jackson back to the franchise.
"We've got to really focus in on what's the task at hand, and that's still trying to make this push and not even looking forward to next season at this point," Anthony said.
Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith each scored 15 for the Knicks, who easily ended their daytime woes by pounding the team with the NBA's worst record.
New York began the day 3½ games behind Atlanta for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. But the playoff push has taken a backseat to the news that Jackson was coming in to run the Knicks' front office -- except in the locker room.
"I think our focus is solely on what we have to accomplish to make the playoffs, to be honest," center Tyson Chandler said. "I know it's a lot going on, but as an athlete, you don't pay too much attention to it, because it's out of your control, anyway."
The Knicks will introduce the 11-time champion as a coach at a news conference Tuesday morning. Jackson will find a team playing its best basketball of a disappointing season.
"Better late than never," Stoudemire said.
The Knicks shot 55 percent, led by as much as 25 points and have won six in a row by double digits for the first time since November 1969, according to information provided to the Knicks by Elias.
"The easiest thing to do is to start talking about next year at this point in time right now, but the guys on the team seem pretty confident about just staying focused right now, winning basketball games and try to make this push for the playoffs," Anthony said.
Nate Wolters scored 15 for the Bucks, who lost their third straight. Brandon Knight and Ramon Sessions each added 14.
The Knicks had lost all seven games that began before 3:30 p.m., six by double digits. Things were so bad earlier this season that coach Mike Woodson even had the players stay overnight in a hotel the night before a home game.
But with unusually high energy in the arena for a noon tip, whether because of the winning streak or the Jackson news, the Knicks were sharp from the start.
New York made 55 percent of its shots in a 30-point first quarter, then scored 30 more in the second. The Knicks even got a banked-in 3-pointer from the corner by Iman Shumpert, shortly after Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova missed a wide-open layup.
"I thought we had no real defensive presence," Bucks coach Larry Drew said.
The Knicks led 88-66 after three. They have feasted on a weak portion of their schedule to hang around in the playoff race, though things turn tougher with a visit from Indiana on Wednesday.
Woodson continues to stress that the Knicks can still make something of this season, though the focus on Jackson has turned much of the attention to the team's future.
"It's basketball. Teams, they try to reshape, they go through changes and this is no different," Woodson said before the game. "You're bringing a great basketball mind into your organization and eventually it'll be reshaped. So how and who and when, only time will tell."
Jackson played for a pair of title-winning teams in New York, including the 1973 squad whose 40th anniversary the Knicks celebrated last season. The drought seems certain to extend at least another year, even if the Knicks can win enough to get into the postseason.
They were helped Saturday with the return of starters Chandler, who missed two games for family reasons, and Stoudemire, who sat out the last one to rest.
Shumpert finished with 14 points.
"We really feel like we're going to get that spot," Chandler said. "If we take care of our business, we do what we're supposed to do, we feel like we've got a great shot."
WAUSAU - Police in Wausau expect to forward forgery charges to the Marathon County District Attorney against four people after finding counterfeit money in the area.
Patrick J. Eppolite, Jr., 22; Michael A. Beck, 27; Jeremy J. Hess, 36; and Amanda M. Bender, 32, are currently in jail on probation holds, but investigators believe they're connected to some counterfeit 20 dollar bills in the area, according to the Wausau Police Department.
EAGLE RIVER - The Northland Pines fishing team is about as basic as it gets.
Just two kids, bait, and their gear.
"I didn't expect to go anywhere," said Northland Pines Junior Mike John.
But in their first year the team is headed to nationals after getting second BASS Wisconsin High School Fishing Tournament. It was the first tournament they've competed in together.
Mike John is going to be a junior. Harmon Marien became a freshman right before the state tournament started.
"Wednesday previous I was in 8th grade and then that Saturday and Sunday we took second in the high school tournament," Northland Pines Freshman Marien said. "That was pretty cool, good way to start high school."
RHINELANDER - This week, a seven-year-old put his life in danger to save his baby sister and little brother from a house fire near downtown Rhinelander.
On Friday, the Rhinelander Fire Department honored that little boy for his bravery.
Rhinelander firefighters now call Adam Granger, 7, a hero.
"He tells me over and over how he wasn't scared and just wanted to save his sister's life and didn't want her to die," said Jenny Schroeder, Adam's mother.
Adam saved his six-month old sister and four-year-old brother from a house fire in downtown Rhinelander.
"His actions, his quick thinking, saved two lives that day," said Rhinelander Fire Assistant Chief Tom Waydick.
Investigators still don't know the exact cause of the fire, but they say it started in the kitchen. Adam's father, Adam Granger, Sr., went outside for a couple minutes to start a campfire, and the next thing
he knew his house was up in flames.
"And the kids were in and out of the house helping him," Waydick said.
When he saw the smoke, Adam's father and his brother ran inside to get the three kids upstairsï¿½ï¿½"not realizing they had already gotten out. To do that, Adam had to run past the fire to get to the bedroom where his baby sister was. Then he went back towards the flames and led his younger brother down the back steps to safety.
"[I'm] Very proud and honored to have him as my son," Schroeder said.
Schroeder doesn't want to think of how it could have turned out.
"We've talked about how the other outcome could have been worse," Schroeder said.
GREEN BAY - Prosecutors have charged a 26-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend and her mother and injuring a third person in the Green Bay area.
Jacob Cayer of Ashwaubenon was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. WLUK-TV reports Cayer also is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, burglary and bail jumping.
MERCER - You don't expect to see crowds in secluded parts of Iron County, but loons tend to be a big draw.
"There's a lot of people who have had interest in loon research," said DNR wildlife biologist John Olson.
"Monitor change overtime in the wildlife population here in the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. Are loons increasing or staying stable or decreasing the numbers of breeding pair?" said retired wildlife biologist, Bruce Bacon.
The community has shown interest in the animal and with the research collected, the volunteers can maintain a steady population of loons in the water.
"Over the years, there have been a number of people who have done real exciting loon work up here," said Olson.
Over the last few surveys, the DNR have decided to expand its research to all wildlife in water and on land, not just the loons.
"The survey has developed into being more all-inclusive of any wildlife we see out here. Especially breeding birds," said Olson.
Some animals seen on Friday include a deer and her fawn, ducks, geese, eagles, ospreys, and of course multiple loons.
The Turtle Flambeau Flowage is a total of 14,000 acres. Individual volunteers maintain the area year round. If they notice a home or shelter destroyed, they will help start a new one for the animals.
"It's rewarding to see a place like the Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Wisconsin and this monitoring gives us a sense of how to monitor and protect it," said Bacon.
Overall, the goal for the group is to collect data on the animals and maintain that number to keep the Northwoods booming with wildlife.
The power of volunteerism was in full effect on Friday. Six boats covered all 14,000 acres of the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.
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